Deckonomics 101

It wasn't so long ago that you heard photo­graphers preaching about the miraculous qualities of analog cameras versus the pitfalls of digital cameras, despite the obvious economic benefits of digital photography. Thanks to a steep technological advancement curve (and hugely expensive digital SLRs that "real" photographers can still get snooty about), you tend not to hear this argument anymore. So it would seem that the debate has finally been put to rest, with digital coming out on top.

The same can't be said for audio just yet, but analog's front line is showing signs of folding, particularly if you consider DJing and mixing to be the last bastion of analog supremacy - after all, if it hadn't been for these factors, vinyl would probably have gone the way of the eight-track by now.

I can prove it

To find out exactly how close the current crop of digital turntables are to taking the lead, I took a look at the sound replication of the Numark HDX (a picture is available here), Pioneer CDJ 800 (a picture is available here) and a set of analog turntables along with renowned DJ, Basskleph, and discussed the pros and cons of taking the digital route, both creatively and economically.

Today, the DJing standard is set by the Pioneer CDJ 1000, a CD-based turntable that you'll find in most clubs. The CDJ 1000 can carry all of your music on compact disc, an obvious benefit; with no degradation to your music collection through playing, marginal damage risk while travelling, the ability to burn your own loops and a drastically simplified and enhanced way to mix music. This is at the expense of a different mixing interface to conventional decks, a scratch sound that purists claim is noticeably different, a bit of time to convert your precious vinyl to CD and a decent wad of cash (around $1500 for each deck, if you must know).

Compare this to a vinyl turntable like the Denon DP-DJ 151 or the Numark TT200, which you can pick up for around $450 - or to compare apples with apples, the Technics SL-1210M5G for $1200. That said, records can cost in the order of $20 for Backstreet Boys to $170 dollars for that elusive Bob Dylan that you're going to want doubles of.

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Damien Donnelly

PC World

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